Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Visiting Yellowstone with Kids

For back ground, see the first post in the series! In summer 2019, our vacation was a two and a half week trip that included Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Glacier National Park. We decided to fly after looking at the drive time (22 hours from Glacier NP to Santa Barbara!). If you want the detailed drive plan though, look at the upcoming Grand Teton post. We chose to fly to Bozeman, Montana since it was between the three places and our longest drive day was 9 hours from Grand Teton in Wyoming to West Glacier, Montanta. It was long but do-able.

Day 1: Fly to Bozeman, MT from LAX. We also gathered supplies this day since we still camped for most of the trip. Most of the supplies came from Target or Bob Ward's Outdoor, conveniently located next door. Another location we got supplies second hand was Twice Treasured. In Bozeman, we stayed at Bozeman Ramada by Wyndham which has a very fun waterslide at the pool!

Awesome waterslide
Day 2: Drive to Yellowstone (2.5 hours) and set up camp. We stayed at Madison Campground (because it is at the lowest elevation--hopefully warmest--for tent camping). If we had stayed in a lodge, we would have chosen Canyon Lodge since it is centrally located. As you drive, you pass through the town of West Yellowstone, home to the Grizzly Museum where you can see Grizzly bears up close.
Day 3: Take in the Old Faithful geyser which erupts every 90 minutes. The rangers speak frequently and the visitor center is interesting and there are several wooden, walking paths around the area including a one mile and a 2.4 mile loop. We also took in the nearby Grand Prismatic Springs which also have wooden, walking paths to best very the alien looking, colorful pools. After driving the Firehole Lake Drive, we walked the Fountain Paints Pots Loop. This was a big walking day, so you may have to pace yourself with kids.

Grand Prismatic Spring
Day 4: Drive to the Roosevelt Arch near Gardiner, MT (Eat pizza at K-Bar Pizza and restock supplies). Visit Mammoth Hot Springs and walk the area. There are many connecting paths and (you can choose how much you are up for that day (1-2 miles). The nearby Albright Visitor Center is interesting if you have time. The swim in Boiling River is fun and worth the short trek (.5 mile/1 mile roundtrip). 
Mammoth Hot Springs
Day 5: Hike Artist's Paint Pots (about 1 mile roundtrip). Drive to the Canyon Visitor Center for a quick look then explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Much can be seen from the road but pick some view points to get out of the car to take in the scope of the canyon. Hike Uncle Tom's Trail (.6 mile) or part of the North Rim Trail (up to 6 miles). Pass through the Grand Canyon to the Lamar Valley. Wildlife is best viewed in the early morning or at dusk so we drove through had dinner in Cooke City, then back through at dusk.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Day 6: Drive through the Hayden Valley to see wild life. Wildlife is best viewed in the early morning or at dusk, but we saw a lot even driving through during the day. Continue down to Yellowstone Lake and hike West Thumb Geyser Basin (.5 miles).

We drove to Grand Teton Day 7, but we did take time to swim in the Firehole River.  We could have taken time to do another partial day. Other items that showed up on several lists that we did not have time for: the Norris Geyser Basin including Porcelain and Back Basins (2 mile hike), Mystic Falls (2.4 mile hike), Fossil Forest (3 miles) and Trout Lake (1 mile).

Firehole River


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